Prokofiev, Bart—k, Webern & Barber

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Prokofiev,Webern & Barber
LABELS: Arabesque
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Garrick Ohlsson
WORKS: Works by Prokofiev, Bartók, Webern & Barber
PERFORMER: Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Garrrick Ohlsson has been at the forefront of virtuoso pianism for more than 30 years, and this programme of 20th-century masterpieces shows him at his superlative best. The opening of the first movement of Prokofiev’s Eighth Sonata sounds disembodied, as if suspended in space, but it also incorporates mercurial scurryings and passages of stamping forcefulness. The Andante sognando (‘dreaming’) accommodates Prokofiev’s typically angular brand of melody, while the finale is sombre and astringent. Ohlsson sculpts the entire Sonata into a convincing whole, with perfect control over tone and dynamics and a clear appreciation of the overall structure.


Barber’s Sonata fares equally well. The textures of the outer movements are full to the point of being overloaded, but Ohlsson disentangles the complexities even of the final double fugue. He’s nimble in the scherzo and expansive in the Adagio, where Stravinskian overtones are never far away.


Bartók’s Three Studies test the very limits of virtuosity, but they’re real music in the fullest sense, and both technically and interpretatively Ohlsson is as secure in these as he is in Webern’s gentle 12-note Variations. Not a disc for the faint-hearted, but one that offers rich rewards to those prepared to make an effort. Wadham Sutton